A total of 26 law firms in Cyprus have been audited in recent past years over the hot issue of ‘golden’ passports and five have already been found guilty and slapped with a non-compliace fine.
In addition, four have been served with indictments, Cyprus Bar Association President Christos Clerides said on Wednesday.
Moreover, for five law firms a file has been prepared and is currently under study by the anti-money laundering committee of the Association.
And one more case is currently under review in the island’s Legal Service while another eight cases have been closed since no proof of violation was found.
Clerides also said the Association’s Council and Disciplinary Board which operate in parallel have – so far – collected over €200,000 in fines for non-compliance by law firms.
And that there is a significant increase in the number of complaints filed against lawyers for disciplinary misconduct.
In fact, the Association’s Disciplinary Council reviewed a total of 165 complaints in 2022 – a record number since 2009.
The data also shows that 1,785 complaints were filed between 2009 and February 2023. Complaints recorded an increasing trend in the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 with ‘golden’ passports being a contributing factor, he also said.
Authorities in EU-member Cyprus have so far revoked hundreds of passports granted through the country’s now-defunct Citizenship by Investment Program – known as the Golden Passport scheme.
The scheme had often been criticized for being involved in many unlawful affairs such as money laundering and corruption.